A Men’s Movement: Acceptance of the Stay at Home Dad
When first faced with the question, “Is a men’s movement necessary?”, my answer would be “No.”. This is true because by default I think of a “men’s movement” in the same light as the civil rights movement or the feminist movement; both of which I view as movements towards and for equality. I do not think a movement towards or for equality for men is needed. However, once prompted to think of and define “men’s movement” in my own terms I was able to see that a movement of some sort is needed.
Being a stay at home dad who chose to quit his job and have his wife support our family financially; I know the social pressures of “not being manly”. I happen to think of myself as a fairly manly man but I realize that in the eyes of many this simply isn’t the case. Real men work outside of the home and support their families. For some that is what matters; bringing home the bacon. Yeah, you know, I love earning money for my family. I love feeling, to me, it’s an old school way. I’m the man, I bring home the bacon. I love earning money for my family. I wish the roles could be reversed. I definitely do. Because sometimes I feel emasculated, like when I don’t have enough money and my wife laughs, do you have enough money and I’ll say oh no, give me some money for gas. It feels emasculating. (Harrington, Mazar, Van Deusen 25) Thankfully I have not had my wife laugh at me in regards to not having any money but it has taken a lot of work to not feel emasculated by having to ask for money from time to time.
I belong to an online group whose members are all stay at home dads and we get together with our kids as well as provide online support to one another. There are often emails exchanged looking for help with everything from how to braid your daughters hair to where to turn for help in custody or divorce matters. There really are not many options for men, especially those without a source of independent income, to go for legal help. Certainly not as many sources as there are for women out there. Because of the social pressures of having to be manly some of these guys tell others that they work from home as opposed to letting people know they are stay at home dads. This is just a small but rather impactful example of how damning our societies pressure is on men to be providers not nurturers. So as a group we attempt to help each other accept and appreciate our role as a stay at home dad. Thankfully there are more and more of these groups popping up but not nearly enough.
I believe that men can support and nurture their children just as well as women can. I believe that more men would give this incredibly rewarding job a chance if they didn’t feel the societal pressure to be more manly. The pressure, in my opinion, is not as bad as it probably was a decade ago but it is still very real. Until recently, stay-at-home fathers made up a tiny sliver of the American family spectrum. Few in number, and lacking voice, they tended to keep to themselves, trying to avoid the inevitable raised eyebrows. In the last decade, though, the number of men who have left the work force entirely to raise children has more than doubled, to 176,000, according to recent United States census data (Williams). Most of the pressure I feel is from other men; especially men outside of my own peer group. Both older men as well as younger men have opinions about it. Each group seems to have the same general response, “You stay at home with the kids? That’s not a job. What do you really do for a living?”.
When we first decided that I would quit my job and stay home it was certainly my own father that had the most questions and concerns. I think he was generally concerned that we were making the right financial decision but I think he was also worried how he would be perceived. While my father and I did not work for the same company we did work in the same industry and both know and...
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